About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

'Pet' Westie Cut

Below is a description and pictures of the way that I groom my customers Westies.

'Pet' grooming a Westie means that I will groom the Westie any way the owner wants.
Most of my Westie customers want a Westie pattern, but the length of the hair on the back, the skirt, and legs vary depending on what the owners want.

I also don't do the teased, shaggy Westie heads that you see on the dog bone box and in the Westie breed books.

I don't know about other groomers, but most of the Westies that we have come in our shop don't have the type of hair on their heads needed to give them the 'Breed Standard' Westie head.
When I do get a Westie in that has the right type of hair on their head, the owner does not want the 'Breed Standard' Westie head.

This is one of the sweetest Westies that I groom.

She spends most of her time in the wood behind her house.

Her owners want her to look like a Westie, but they also want her coat easy to maintain.

Most of my Westie customers let me decide the length that I use on the back.

I decide what length that I am going to use by the texture and thickness of the hair.

This little girl has the kind of hair that I love on a Westie.

It is thick, with a mixture of soft plushy hair and wiry hair.

So many of the the Westies that I have come in have a very thin, course straight hair with no plush to the coat at all.

  I am not an expert on breeding Westies, so I am not entirely sure which coat is preferred by breeders, but I like the mixture of plushy and wiry.

To me, it is easier to blend, and leaves a really nice finish when clipped with most any length blade.

Since this little girl spends so much time in the woods, and her owners want a length that is easy to maintain, I use a #4F on her back.

 I start clipping at the back of the head.

About three fingers down from the occiput bone.

That is the bone that sticks up at the back of the skull, just in case your wondering what the heck I am talking about. :)

My first cut is straight down the spine line.

All of the way to the base of the tail.

I continue down the back turning the blade at a slight angle to blend the back into the skirt.

 I slowly turn the blade as I am clipping so that by the time I reach the top of the skirt, my blade is moving straight down, so that I can skim the blade off of the top of the skirt.

You want to turn the blade slowly so that you do not make deep cut marks in the hair.

The arrows pointing up in the picture just means that I am lifting the blade up and away from the skirt.

 As you can see, the cut of the blade is smooth and blends nicely into the skirt.

I use the point of shoulder and point of hip as a guide to where I place the skirt.

I only use that as a guide.

How low or high I place the skirt depends on the weight of the dog.

Fat Westies and Scotties look better with a lower skirt, in my opinion.

When clipping around the head and neck, make sure to follow the growth of the hair.

Westies always have a cowlick on the side of the neck, under the ear.

When you bare that cowlick, it looks like you have skinned the dog in that area.

It can be hard to make the owner understand that it was a cowlick that you bared, and that you did not skin their dogs neck. :p

 This isn't the greatest picture for showing the front apron...sorry about that.

Once again, what I do with the chest depends on the type of hair, how much hair the dog has on the chest, and how many cowlicks are in that area.

With this Westie, I clip to the breast bone and then lower on each side, matching with the skirt.

That didn't make the least bit of sense, did it?

If you were not able to blend the skirt well with the blade, you can always go back and use thinning shears to blend the skirt and the body better.

Now on to my incorrect Westie head. :)

I start by shaping the beard and side of the head.

I scissor from the front of the beard to the ear.

Then I fold the ear in half and continue scissoring from the beard up into the ear.

Next, I comb all of the hair on the head forward and scissor over the eyes.

After I think I have finished scissoring the eyes, I hold head head down to let the hair fall the way it would if the dog was sniffing the ground and scissor up any more hair that falls forward.

I also, very lightly, scissor down the sides of the head just to blend, shape, and soften the edges.

Blend in the back of the ears and head with either scissors or thinning shears.

 I like the head blended neatly into the back.

It would be fun one day to groom a Westies head like I see at competitions and in shows, but that will only happen when I get a Westie with a good head and an owner that will let me groom it that way. :/

Last of all, the tail.

I like to scissor the tail.

I feel that I have more control with the scissors even though I could probably get the same results with a blade.

I start by scissoring the top of the tail, blending it into the body.

While scissoring, remember that you are scissoring a carrot shape.

Leave the tail thicker at the base, tapering to a  semi point at the end.

Scissor out well under the tail.

For this Westie, I also shortened up the skirt and legs.

Well, there she is. :)

That is the way that I groom my Westie customers.

Hope this helps. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Good post. I wish I had somebody to take pictures of me while I groom so I could do informative how-to posts like you do, rather than always "Hey, look what I've done."

    Incidentally, I do have one client who wants her Westie to look like a show dog. I haven't gotten her head quite right yet, I'm still experimenting with products to get the hair on top of her head to fluff up high enough, but it is interesting to try to do that type of Westie head. My most recent blog post has before and after pictures of her other dog, a Bichon that she wants to look like a show dog but has crappy hair. I haven't gotten her head quite right either, but I think it looks pretty good.

    Anyway, the Westie is halfway down the page here: http://thewritinggroomer.blogspot.com/2012/10/more-recent-pics.html

    Have a good weekend, Lisa!


    PS - Where did you get your CAPTCHA? I'm up to my ears in spam.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Wow, your grooms look great. I think that you did a great job on the Westies head. As the person in your comments said, it would take so much product to get that head to stand up the way you want it to.
      I am very lucky to have my husband and son available to take pictures for me while I am grooming. I think that before and after pictures are great too!
      As for the CAPTCHA...I use what blogger supplies. I still get some spam, but I weed it out.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. I have only started grooming 7 months ago. I just stumbled onto your blog. This is what I have been looking for! Thank you so much for doing this. I work in a shop with an amazing owner, but I feel that she grooms every dog the same way. I have so much enjoyed seeing all the different types of styles you can do with the same breed.

    I really appreciated the blog you did on washing the dogs heads. No one has ever broke it down the way you did. Thank you!

    I am hoping to have my own shop out of my house. It has been nice to get this kind of tips to become a groomer that the only person they could imagine getting their dog groomed is by me.

    I am a proud owner of a 6 month old Westie. I didn't know much about them until I started to groom and I feel in love with them. I'm hoping to have ton's of fun grooming her and having a big clientele of Westies.

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. I have learned so much from you. Thank you for posting the hard stuff we have to deal with. It helps me to know what I should do and look out for. Keep it up!

    1. Hi,
      Thank you very much! I am glad that my blog is such a help for you. Thanks for reading! Good luck on your home shop. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  3. How do you do the front and back of Westies feet and pads?

    1. Hi Sam,
      For a 'pet' Westie, I clip out the pads of the feet with a #15 or #30 blade. Then I use scissors to round off the feet and blend into the rest of the leg.
      I hope that this helps. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  4. great post! Just found your site and it is very helpful. My westie just turned 15 on monday. She's blind, diabetic and almost deaf so I've started grooming her myself, atleast trying too. You can see her at www.imasillymami.com

    Will need to pick up some new clips so I can do the legs and feet.


    1. Hi Irene,

      It is so hard to see our fur babies getting older, but she still looks good for 15!
      When they get that old I do a lot of their grooming while they are laying down, and at their pace. If they get tired and fussy, I leave them alone for a little while and then try again.


  5. Hi you don't show or advise how you cut the legs. I know they are supposed to graduate, so hair is shorter at top of leg, graaduating down. What type of scissor would you use, thinner or normal? THank you

    1. Hi,
      With this particular Westie that had a 'Westie Style' cut, the legs are not graduated down.
      For a full 'Westie Style' the legs are left long and only neatened. For the Westie above, I shortened the legs by blending them into the body and scissoring the legs even all of the way around to a length that the owner likes.
      Lisa, MFF

  6. Hi this is an excellent blog thank you, I should be taking my C&G level three exam doing a Westie cut soon and have been quite worried about it. Are you able to give more assistance with direct contact, I would love to talk to you about Westie clips.

    1. Hi,
      To be honest, my Westie clips are strictly 'pet' style. I would feel terrible if I gave the wrong advice for placement of pattern. I am also personally not crazy about the 'correct show' head, and never groom them that way. I wish that I could be more help to you. Jody Murphy has great CDs on grooming the different breeds. I wish you luck on your exam. I am sure that you will do a great job.
      Lisa, MFF

  7. Hi!
    Thank you for your instructions on grooming the westie head. I have been grooming for 12 years and sometimes feel the instructions I received in school was not good enough. I am happy to say I learned a new tip from you: fold the ear in half! I know to do that on Scotties but didn't know it worked on Westies too! It is true, you can never stop learning and I love getting helpful tips from other pro groomers! Thank you again!!! Jennifer groomerjen@bellsouth.net

    1. Glad that I could help Jennifer. Thanks for reading my blog. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  8. Great blog and easy-to-duplicate instructions! Our tiny 8 year old girl comes home from the groomer looking like a schnauzer - her head is always too short. Your post will help me get her back to a Westie "look". One question - You didn't detail the way you handle the corners of the eyes near the nose. Phoebe's hair sticks up/out and covers much of her beautiful black eyes. While it looks adorable, it does't give her a "westie" look. I'm solid on the remainder of your GREAT instructions. Thanks so much from a non-groomer DIY Westie mom.

    1. Hi Mayor,
      Depending on the thickness of the hair, I use either thinning shears or scissors to open up the eyes, just not too short.
      Lisa, MFF

  9. Great post! Been reading a lot about pet grooming. Thanks for the info here!

  10. How do you avoid clipper marks when grooming the westie I used a 5f and got some

  11. How do you avoid clipper marks when grooming the westie I used the 5f and got some. Was able to thin them out but would rather not get them in the first place tks

  12. This is an amazing, detailed post for pet grooming! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this grooming tutorial together. We just recently added grooming to our facility and these kind of blogs really help us stay on top of the industry. Thanks!

  13. cool i need tht info for my westie

  14. Merci! J'ai trouvé le post très instructif. La taille de la tête et les oreilles, très bien expliqué. Je conserve précieusement ce guide. Les westies sont tellement cute!

  15. I just had my 4yr old westie groomed today and was horrified when I saw him with a broad band shaved on his nose. It's truly awful and not like him at all. Is shaving a westies nose a current new trend as this is not the first time? Think I'll go back to trimming him myself. Your instructions are so clear am thinking of re-investing in new grooming set. Any suggestions to which brands?

    1. shaving down a nose on any breed should only be done if he owner and groomer agree. It is not a good look on a long snout like a Westie however it works well on a short stop like a ShihTzu

  16. This little Westie is absolutely adorable and it looks like she's no trouble at all to groom! I don't know a lot about Westies, so I was just fascinated with seeing the pictures and how you like to groom them. I like the clean lines you got with the head and the skirt. Great job! http://www.lovingcareanimalhospital.net/services.html#0000013c-81fb-d28a-ad7d-99ff27f70000

  17. You have given great instructions! My Westie has been going to the groomer since he was young. Unfortunately, she recently relocated to Michigan. Because he sits so well and because your instructions are so good,I have confidence that I can groom him myself! Thanks!

  18. I don't uave money to pay a groomer, so I'll follow what your indications to groom mybown westie. I've seen videos on YouTube, but I think your way is easier to understand. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I have been grooming my Teddy for 6 years now. Thanks for the tips. He always looks good but I am still working on his feet...........He doesn't like to have his feet clipped.